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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day and other stuff


- Pericles

It's Memorial Day, the holiday for remembering the people who died serving in the armed forces. I don't have any relatives or friends who have done that, but this day makes me think of Pericles' funeral speech (we read the History of the Peloponnesian War in college) ...

It was an established Athenian practice by the late 5th century to hold a public funeral in honor of all those who had died in war. The remains of the dead were left out for three days in a tent, where offerings could be made for the dead. Then a funeral procession was held, with ten cypress coffins carrying the remains, one for each of the Athenian tribes, and another for the remains that could not be identified. The procession led to a public grave (at the Kerameikos), where they were buried. The last part of the ceremony was a speech delivered by a prominent Athenian citizen .....

American Civil War scholars Louis Warren and Garry Wills have addressed the parallels of Pericles' funeral oration to Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address. Lincoln's speech, like Pericles', begins with an acknowledgment of revered predecessors: "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent..."; Lincoln, like Pericles, then praises the uniqueness of the State's commitment to democracy: "..a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...government of the people, by the people, and for the people..."; Lincoln, like Pericles, addresses the difficulties faced by a speaker on such an occasion, "...we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground"; Lincoln, like Pericles, exhorts the survivors to emulate the deeds of the dead, "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the great task remaining before us"; and finally, Lincoln, like Pericles, contrasts the efficacy of words and deeds, "The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract...The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." It is uncertain to what degree Lincoln was directly influenced by Pericles' Funeral Oration. Wills never claims that Lincoln drew on it as a source, though Edward Everett, who delivered a lengthy oration at the same ceremony at Gettysburg, began by describing the "Athenian example"


You can read Pericles' speech here at Fordham

Meanwhile, here's some of what I've been reading ...

- I Am Your Father: Star Wars is an eternal tale of paternal love and redemption—for both George Lucas and Anakin Skywalker.

- How Clergy Set the Standard for Abortion Care

- Women Are Leaving Church, And the Reason Seems Clear

- Eric Holder Makes A Small Crack In The Wall Of Official Hostility Towards Edward Snowden

- And :) ...


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